Great Britain

Leah Williamson believes teammates can come together and boycott social media

LEAH WILLIAMSON feels a lot of England players would join collective action with regard to social media if it was deemed the most effective thing to do in the effort to combat online abuse.

In the last few days Rangers, Birmingham and Swansea have announced week-long boycotts of social-media platforms in a stand against abuse and discrimination.

Thierry Henry last month disabled his accounts as he described racism on social media as “too toxic to ignore.”

At a press conference today prior to England’s friendly against Canada, defender Williamson was asked about individuals and clubs coming off social media, where she stood with regard to collective action, and if it had been discussed in the camp.

She said: “Unfortunately members of the team and the wider squad have experienced abuse.

“We all stand together in terms of our viewpoint on it and how unacceptable it is, and 100 per cent I think a lot of the team would join collective action if that was deemed to be the most effective, because something needs to change, obviously.

“If that’s the best way to do it, then 100 per cent, any collective action, whether that be come off it, or take the same action on the platforms, I’m sure a lot of the girls would commit to that.”

The Arsenal player added: “It’s the prime example of everybody just hoping that something disappears but nobody actually taking any action that supports that.

“You can have all different levels and I suppose severities of online abuse, but from literally just getting abuse after a football game because of performance, to then the colour of your skin or your sexuality or your gender — all of it is unacceptable.

“Yet I can’t believe that there aren’t any measures to deal with them, based on that severity. Absolutely nothing is being done and it’s unacceptable.”

Liverpool winger Rinsola Babajide, who received her first senior England call-up in September, spoke out last week about racist and sexist remarks directed towards her on Instagram.

Tottenham’s Son Heung Min on Sunday became the latest victim in the long line of footballers suffering online racist abuse, following the 3-1 home loss to Manchester United in the Premier League.

A spokesperson for Facebook, the company which owns Instagram, said: “The abuse directed towards Son Heung Min is abhorrent. We do not want it on Instagram and we have removed a number of comments and accounts that broke our rules.

“We share the goal of tackling online abuse and holding people who share it accountable. We do this by taking action on content and accounts that break our rules and cooperating with law enforcement when we receive a valid legal request.

“We recently announced that we’ll take tougher action when we become aware of people breaking our rules in [direct messages] and we have built tools to help protect people, including the ability to never receive a DM from someone you don’t follow. This work is ongoing and we are committed to doing more.”

The weekend also saw Raheem Sterling receive racist abuse on social media in the wake of Manchester City’s 2-1 loss to Leeds on Saturday.

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